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Dennis Wingo, Friday, 2-3-12 February 3, 2012

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Dennis Wingo, Friday, 2-3-12


Guest:  Dennis Wingo.  Topics:  Space commerce, a new space vision and plan, space applications.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed back Dennis Wingo who outline for us a new and inspiring commercial space policy and implementation program.  To make his points, Dennis started out by discussing the news stories this week about the UN plan for a panel to control economic growth around the world for sustainability.  You can read about it at http://news.yahoo.com/un-panel-says-retool-world-economy-sustainability-164515165.html as well as a host of other sites and articles on the internet. Also, check out the planned UN Rio Conference on this program at www.un.org/esa/dsd/index.shtml?utm_source=OldRedirect&utm_medium=redirect&utm_content=dsd&utm_campaign=OldRedirect.  Dennis spent considerable time during our 90 minute discussion dismissing the dystopian view/policy per this UN panel while advocating why space development offered a viable alternative to this limiting policy and way of seeing our world.  During our one hour first segment and in fact the entire show, Dennis championed science and fact over dystopian policy.  He also talked about geo orbits and said there was a newly found orbit requiring much less energy that could be used for going to the Moon so pay attention to what he said about this orbit.  He offered up some new/unusual ideas such as an open cockpit lunar lander.  Dennis put forth a basic strategic plan for staying positive and using our time and energy to do something to prove we advocates are right rather than getting involved in the negative process which we have very little influence over.  Several listeners commented on this strategy, bringing to bear some differences over what Dennis suggested.  That said, the message Dennis presented us was to stay focused on the positive.  Later, he said that the advocacy community’s focus on low cost launch was misdirected.  He talked about this a lot during this segment and the next so don’t miss what he had to say about this important issue.  Dennis did advocate Zero G Zero Tax which he said was good for space applications. Also in this segment he talked about the advances we have made in robotic technology and the Pisces Project in Hawaii, http://pisces.uhh.hawaii.edu.  As this segment ended, he talked about the “Church of SSP,” updating his book “Moonrush,” & the need for unity in the advocacy community. 

In the second segment, a listener asked about the Dr. Spudis cislunar economic development plan and Dennis talked about the need to lower total capital costs.  He also talked about prizes such as the Mars prize recently suggested by Dr. Zubrin.  Dennis repeated that the way to counter the bad press & media was to do something, a space application, to prove that we are right and those ridiculing space investment are wrong. Near the end, he said “the future will right itself….Don’t focus on the negative.” 

Please post your comments/questions for Dennis Wingo on The Space Show blog URL above.


1. N Anderson - February 23, 2012

Do we have any hints as to what the magical orbit that Dennis has identified for low-energy lunar transfers?

2. Alistair - February 17, 2012

While its easy to cast aspersions on the UN, I don’t think the US government (over the past several administrations) is all that much more efficient or effective. We can’t even get a consensus within the space advocacy community, so criticising the UN is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.

As for the UN sustainable growth issue, I think we’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater on this issue. Just because the UN is advocating the issue, doesn’t mean it is automatically a bad idea.

We can all agree that our economic growth based on borrowed money (i.e debt) is not sustainable. Economic growth based on pollution, exploited workers and other environmental degradation is not sustainable either. Just ask anyone who lives downstream from a mountain top removal coal mine. Hunters, fisherman and ordinary people living off the land have their health and livelihoods destroyed by companies that externalize (i.e. socialize) the cost of their product through pollution and unsafe working conditions. If companies had to charge the full cost of the products, sure we’d have more expensive products (or those that are cleaner will succeed), but we’d save immeasurable money on improved health and a clean environment. It’s a zero sum game (although right now, some environmental/health damages are unknown, so products are still cheaper/dirtier than they really should be).

So how do we get around this? There are limits on resources on Earth. Space has essentially unlimited resources, although there are, at least in the short term, obstacles to making using these resources (lack of down-mass, let alone up-mass).

Where space can really bring something to the table (and has been doing so for many years), is advances in technology that can be used on Earth.

Solar panels and medical advances are already paying dividends on Earth. Unknown space-based technological advances will continue to improve conditions on Earth, helping decrease pollution and improving working conditions. The energy, food, water triangle of needs in the future can be addressed, in part, through space technology.

Energy is the most obvious area that space is already helping solve. Food is reaping some benefits from space (e.g. vertical farming and hydroponics owe a lot to nasa research and will benefit immeasurably from human outposts on the Moon or Mars). Water is an area, in which space can provide solutions, at least in-directly. Desalination plants require a lot of electrical power, which is/can be provided by solar power. There are advances in desalination technology that will reduce the electrical demand and improve efficiency. I don’t know what the direct impact of space technolgy is with this, but I would be very surprised if there was no space technology involved in the advances (e.g. nanotechnology).

Thus, I really do think we need to get a sustainable economic footing. A consumer driven economy (based on credit) is not sustainable, as we have recently experienced. Environmental damage has direct and in-direct costs. We can have cleaner products (even clean coal if they ever get a plant built) and economic growth.

Not all societies need to go through the growth pattern that we did. For example, people living in small villages in Africa find it cheaper to buy solar LED lights (which also charge mobile phones) than buying gasoline for generators (which make their kids sick). They don’t need incandescent bulbs, power lines, telephone lines, etc… they can skip it, improve their lives and benefit from space technology, while continuing to grow their economies in a healthy an sustainable method.

There is nothing incompatible with space and a sustainable world-wide economy.

Now if we could only figure out a good way to get significant quanitities of down-mass from Earth orbit (and much further out); then we could really show how a space-based economy really does pay dividends on Earth. The eternal pipe-dream of a space elevator could do this, but the tech is no where near ready for that.

I’ll get off my soap box now.

3. Jim Davis - February 5, 2012

Dennis Wingo is a “must listen” Space Show guest. I only wish he had been scheduled when I wasn’t working.

Two comments:

1. I think Wingo makes a dangerous concession to the Limits to Growth argument. The Limits to Growth argument is fallacious independent of whether space resources can be exploited or not. The argument that their claims would be valid except that they didn’t figure on space resources is playing right into their hands.

2. It’s ironic that Wingo dismisses other space advocacy positions as religious while soliciting x dollars per month for y years like a TV evangelist. If his ideas have merit he won’t need to resort to this kind of silliness.

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